Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New AirAsia Japan to be based at Nagoya Chubu Centrair.

AAJR, the temporary legal entity for the new Japanese arm of AirAsia (AK/AXM), officially changed its name to 'AirAsia Japan' (Mk II) and registered their headquarters at Nagoya/Chubu Centrair (NGO/RJGG) effective May 1st.
AirAsia Japan (Mk I) Airbus A320-214 JA01AJ lands at Narita in 2012. It is now with Indonesia AirAsia as PK-AZJ. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

The Malaysian LCC's first crack at the Japanese market with AirAsia Japan (JW/WAJ) (Mk I) (CoachFlyer JW8541: NRT - FUK on AirAsia Japan's Airbus A320.) ended in a divorce with joint-venture (JV) partner All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA), only 10 months after launching operations in August 2012, due to disagreements over how the airline would be run and other complicated reasons. It ceased operations on October 26th, 2013, and re-launched as Vanilla Air (JW/VNL) under 100% ANA ownership on December 20th (Vanilla Air launches operations.). 

So, as rumored and probably the most realistic option, Nagoya has indeed been chosen. It is Japan's third largest metropolitan area with a population of 8.9 million, but has been relatively underserved, mostly due to the fact that it is connected with the mega-cities of Tokyo and Osaka with the super-efficient (but expensive) Shinkansen. ANA operates the bulk of routes and Japan Airlines (JL/JAL) has minimum presence, while niche carrier Fuji Dream Airlines (JH/FDA) maintains a hub at Nagoya/Komaki (NKM/RJNA), the older airport near downtown. The first AirAsia Japan (Mk I) also set up a hub three months prior to the failed JV's divorce, while sister AirAsia X (D7/XAX) currently serves the airport four-times weekly from Kuala Lumpur (KUL/WMKK).

Earlier this February, AirAsia Group's Director Tony Fernandes revealed that talks are underway involving up to three 'like-minded' Japanese companies listed on the stock exchange to invest up to 70 million USD in initial start-up capital. Rakuten, originally an IT venture and now Japan's largest e-commerce firm, has been rumored as a partner, but nothing has been disclosed. Foreign ownership of Japanese airlines is capped at 33%, but having three partners instead of one or two would enable AirAsia to retain the biggest share. For their failed first try, they erred in giving ANA majority control at 67%.

The reincarnation is being led by former AirAsia Japan (Mk I) (JW/WAJ) head Yoshinori Odagiri, who has been appointed CEO, and Osamu Hata, who previously worked with Dell's Japan unit and has been appointed CFO (New AirAsia Japan names CEO; official launch in April.). The new AirAsia Japan (Mk II) is expected to launch domestic and regional international flights with Airbus A320s from Chubu Centrair as early as first quarter of 2015 (AirAsia plans return to Japan in 2015.). With the Tokyo Olympics/Paralympics coming up in 2020, LCC-dedicated Ibaraki (IBR/RJAH) is being considered as a focus city serving the Greater Tokyo region, however, AirAsia officials who visited last month have been concerned about the airport's tiny size.

Source: Traicy, May 19th. (in Japanese)

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